Royal Ascot: Prepare For Battle Royal In The Prince Of Wales's

Luxembourg | PA Media


Arguably the week's most momentous race, Wednesday's G1 Prince of Wales's S. is as tight as it gets between a trio of hardcore middle-distance soldiers from all the right establishments. From Moulton Paddocks' 2021 Derby winner Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) to Freemason Lodge's Champion S. winner Bay Bridge (GB) (New Bay {GB}) to Ballydoyle's Irish Champion hero Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), this renewal could come down to small margins and tactical decisions, much as it did last year. Not yet a Group 1 winner, but so obviously an imminent one, the William Haggas-trained My Prospero (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}) is right in there too and should he take this back to Somerville Lodge there will be no hint of surprise anywhere.

Perhaps this Prince of Wales's will be more about these horses' weaknesses than their strengths, with any cracks sure to be exposed by the other three in what promises to be a showcase for the sport's competitive elite. Aidan O'Brien and his collective have had to endure as much disappointment as joy with Luxembourg so far, with physical ailments taking him out of last year's Derby picture and leading to his no-show in the Arc. With the master of Ballydoyle, the real story is usually read between the lines of his comments, particularly post-race, and significantly this colt was described as “not for kids” by him following his courageous all-the-way Tattersalls Gold Cup triumph last time. That brought up his stable's 400th top-level winner since it started in motion in June 1993 and you get the sense that this is the latest in a line of those to emanate from Rosegreen with a disposition of granite.

Adayar, who provided Frankel with his first Derby winner before bringing the King George back into the Classic-crop conversation here two years ago, has had his own spell in the wilderness only to bounce back from adversity. So close to winning the Champion here in October, this mighty thoroughbred has enjoyed a far smoother preparation in 2023 and will carry the aspirations of all those Derby worshippers out there.

Bay Bridge, who can be seen as at least a moral dead-heater of this 12 months ago once study of the sectionals is carried out, probably needs more rain for this race to breach a tipping point away from the others. That said, even on a sound surface this is a valid member of a list of rarities cultivated down the decades by racing's ace horticulturalist Sir Michael Stoute. Despite losing Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) out of the picture, the trainer's assistant trainer James Savage is under no illusions as to what is required on Wednesday afternoon. “The mile-and-a-quarter division is as strong as I have seen,” he stated.

Wednesday opens customarily with the G2 Queen Mary S., where the Karl Burke stable responsible for last year's tour de force Dramatised (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) is the most feared once again by bookies and opponents alike thanks to the Nottingham effort of Beautiful Diamond (GB) (Twilight Son {GB}). “I'm hoping she will be there in a ding-dong,” commented Bruce Raymond, racing manager for her owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum. “The timing of the race is tight from her run at Nottingham, but really that's an after-the-race excuse.” One of Royal Ascot's top sires Dark Angel supplies the yard's other key hope, the Listed Marygate Fillies' S. winner Got To Love A Grey (GB), as well as the Richard Fahey-trained Hilary Needler Trophy scorer Midnight Affair (Ire) as England's re-emerging North maintains its high standards.

This is no ordinary Queen Mary, with added spice provided by a big US presence not just about Wesley Ward but also George Weaver and Thomas Morley. The good news for all is that we get to see Johnny Velazquez, Joel Rosario and Javier Castellano and possibly Irad Ortiz, Jr. too if he gets over the ill-timed bout of food poisoning that ruled him out of Tuesday's action. Flying the TDN Rising Star standard is Laurence Holder's Yarmouth winner Born To Rock (Ire) (Soldier's Call {GB}).

In the G2 Duke of Cambridge S., Frankie renews his partnership with Andrew Rosen and Marc Chan's G3 Princess Elizabeth S. winner Prosperous Voyage (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}), despite the Gosdens saddling last year's G1 Sun Chariot S. third Grande Dame (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}). Is that a clue? Chan's racing manager Jamie McCalmont said of Prosperous Voyage, who upset Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the G1 Falmouth S. last July. “It's a bit different competition to Epsom here, but she didn't have a hard race there and that should set her up for a good performance.” Grande Dame gives Doreen Tabor a strong hand, with the G3 Valiant S. scorer Jumbly (GB) (Gleneagles {Ire}) sporting the first colours from Owning Hill having cost 1.25million gns at Tatts December.

Frankie's unbeaten Listed Cocked Hat S.-winning mount Gregory (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}) is a big deal for Wathnan Racing in the G2 Queen's Vase, where the Royal colours are carried by the Stoute runner Circle Of Fire (GB) (Almanzor {Fr}). This race also marks a landmark moment for the Crisfords as they saddle their first runner for Godolphin after the operation acquired the well-touted Chesspiece (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}).

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